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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  February 17, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST

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are protecting people who are living in tennessee and out traveling. again we just really want tomorrowto emphasize how dangerous it is and avoid unnecessary travel. >> join me on twitter and facebook facebook. turning you over now to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. coordinated attacks. the terrorists behind the paris magazine massacre reportedly texted the kosher market gunman just ahead of their deadly strike. is it evidence that al qaeda and isis are joining forces? the white house convenes a summit an isis kill list. we'll get more with congressman peter king. explosive disaster. trains derail setting massive fireballs into the sky.
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residents flee and crude oil into a vital water way. is the water safe to drink now? plane angry. even as north korea's kim jong-un shows off his private jet, he's fuming over a human right s rights conference in the united states over him living a life of luxury while he's starving his people. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news. a disturbing report out of paris that the attacks that terrorized the french capital, left 16 people dead, were coordinated. a french newspaper investigative sources are saying one of the gunmen behind the magazine massacre texted the kosher grocery store terrorist an hour earlier. we're covering the breaking news with our correspondents and our guests this hour including congressman peter king a member of the homeland security and
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intelligence committee. let's begin with the very latest information. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto joins us. jim in jim? >> we knew they were friends and their wives had communicated extensively. now a new report that they were in touch the very day of the attack on the french satirical newspaper "charlie hebdo." only hours before the horrific attack, sharifcherif kouachi communicated at 10:19 a.m. from kouachi to one of coulibali's 13 cell phones, a phone french investigates believe he bought specifically to communicate with the kouachi brothers. only six text messages sent from that phone, the text sent that morning reports was the last.
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this corroborates a link between the kouachis and coulibali. in january the french prosecutor would quoted that the wives of coulibali and one of the kouachi brothers had 500 phone calls between them during the year before the attacks. evidence from the phone shows as well that coulibali and cherif likely met in person between midnight and 1:00 a.m. on the morgue of the morning of the attack. one more bizarre detail from the phones, that is that the newspaper found that january 7th that attack almost canceled just the day before when the second gunmen said kouachi came down with the stomach flu. in these cases, even a small hitch could get in the way. instead, they went ahead and we know the bloody horrific results. >> we certainly do. jim sciutto, thank you. while that investigation certainly continues, cnn has also learned of the secret isis
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kill list the u.s. keeping containing top leaders including the self-proclaimed caliph of the islamic state. barbara starr is working this story. what are you learning from your sources? >> wolf it could sound like success against isis working their way through the kill list taking out isis operatives one by one. but u.s. officials will tell you they have a long way to go to get critical intelligence about the operatives they are going after. the u.s. has a secret list of isis in syria and iraq it wants to kill. number one, isis leader abu bakr albaghdadi. it's been months -- a senior u.s. official tells cnn. the u.s. believes he knows war planes are hunting him so he moves cautiously even as his influence has grown beyond syria
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and iraq. >> the fact that al baghdadi has become this caliphate boss of bosses is pretty distressing, but it also means that we know what the command and control might actually be like. >> the u.s. has already killed a dozen or so isis operatives including a chemical weapons expert. isis executioners like so-called jihadi john are still in the u.s.' crosshairs but the list focuses on targeting those whose deaths would broadly hurt isis. isis operatives are added to the list as intelligence, often from cell phone intercepts, is gained. the kill list may now expand as the u.s. struggles to understand an isis command structure made more confusing with isis moving into egypt, yemen, afghanistan pakistan, and libya. one caution those labeling themselves as isis may have very
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different goals. >> we have to take each terrorist or cult organization in every country as a separate entity. we can't look at it as part of one big group. you may miss the most important targets when you're doing that. >> the beheadings of egyptian christians on the libyan coastline underscores the targeting problem. the u.s. wants to identify the killers on the videotape, but the broader worry, isis' position in libya. it now has a stronghold in derna and operates across coastal areas in reach of europe's busy shipping lane. >> it's very difficult to have the same kind of kroils over people who might be getting on boats working as steve adores or laborers on ship that's are coming into european ports. >> now as far as we know there's no current intelligence that isis is planning any attack
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into southern europe via those libyan ports. but it's interesting to note u.s. and nato warships have been patrolling the southern mediterranean for some time now looking for illicit activity coming out of north afr area. those patrols by those warships can always be stepped up. >> barbara, thank you. the white house meanwhile is focusing today and tomorrow and the next day on a specific issue. president obama is conveneing what's being called a summit on countering violent extremism. jim acosta is joining us with details. jim, they convened today. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. the white house opened up its countering violence as isis appears to be growing stronger, whether it's in libya or denmark where a radical went on a violent ram page. officials caution this isn't about the military campaign to defeat isis. it's about finding ways to address the root causes of violent extremism in communities
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and then sharing those ideas with leaders around the world. this is how vice president biden put it earlier today. >> bewe need answers that go beyond a military answer. we fwheedneed answers that go beyond force. countries, all of us including the united states have to work this from the ground up. we have to work from the ground up and engage our communities and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized. >> reporter: now, the obama administration is hoping to combat this poet enlt terrorist message by beefing up its social media presence. the slogan is think again, turn away. the obama administration is finding its own message under fire. gop and even a few democratic
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critics ask why the summit does not include the term "islamic extremism or terrorism." earlier today eric holder said that misses the point. speaking of being off message, wolf, vice president biden lit up twitter earlier today during his opening remarks at the summit when discussing the issue of radical owe malis living in the u.s. the vice president said he has great relationships with them because there's an awful lot of them driving cabs and they're friend of his. an off-script off-message moment for the vice president. >> thanks for that. we'll stay on top of this summit under way at the white house. we'll get back to you. let's get more on what's going on. joining us republican congressman peter king of new york, a member of the homeland security and intelligence committee. thanks for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> you just heard jim acosta report that the summit called countering violent extremism u. know there's a lot of criticism that's a vague term not using
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the phrase "radical islamic extremism." do you agree with that criticism, they should specifically be referring to islamic extremism at this summit? >> yes, wolf absolutely. that's the enemy. that's the reason this summit is called. that's the one who is causing the violence that we're concerned about. they're the ones burning people to death and it seems to me like this is becoming more of a hand holding type like when the vice president talks about how we have to engage those who may feel disenfranchised. you know when franklin roosevelt defeated hitler and he used the army and navy and air corps marines he didn't use the wva. i mean the fact is we have to stop them and kill them first. then we can worry about social reasons. but if we think we're going to stop isis by somehow finding what's bothering them psychologically, for instance, when they're saying the other day that these people are marginalized. they don't have jobs.
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anywhere you go in the middle east are large construction projects. you talk about the other hijag hijackers, many were college graduates. to me, they're missing the point. it ace a twisted ideology bases on a twisted religion. but to somehow make it out to be a social problem to me is missing the target altogether. >> i don't think they consider it just a social problem. but here's the question. what difference would it really make if all of a sudden that word "islam" or "islamic" were included as part of this conversation? in practical terms, how would that make a difference? because you really want to go after those extremists don't you? >> and these are islamist extremists. these aren't environmental advocates you're talking about people who are motivated by an islamist ideology. we have to zero in on them. we're not talking about
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terrorism or extremism generally. the terrorist threat to us today comes from a small but very violent segment of muslims. it's based on their interpretation of islam. if we are going to address the core reasons, we should then show why this is not truly representative of islam. to do that, we have to say that it does identify itself with islam. we have to separate it out. to me it's almost like we're afraid to confront the enemy. if you don't identify your enemy, it's hard to mobilize the force against it. >> but it does refer to a tiny element of the billion-plus muslims who are out there. >> in isis. but when you see following it often goes beyond 1% or 2% who do support jihad and do support terrorist activity. i think we have to make it clear it does come from that community, it's not large but it's large enough that it's causing right now mass murders throughout the world, terrorist attacks as we saw on 9/11
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caused massive deaths here in our own country. >> let's talk about the recent attacks in denmark. you heard jim sciutto report it appears those attacks, the two attacks, at the offices of "charlie hebdo" and the kosher supermarket were a lot more coordinated than we originally thought. tell us the latest information you can share with us on how sophisticated that operation really was. >> well it certainly was a level of sophistication to it. while i can't go into details, we shouldn't be surprised if there was coordination, whether it involved isis or al qaeda. really over the last several years you've seen the type of cross-pollination or cooperation. you've seen it with al qaeda and al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, with al shabab. these groups while they're distinct, they share a lot and they have members who go from one group to another at any time. they do share an overriding
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ideology. they have differences in ow they carry it out, the emphases. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is more concern about attacking the united states than it appears isis is. but they basically have the same philosophy and ideology. it's not surprising they would be working together on various operations. >> i want to be precise, congressman. this was a joint aqap al qaeda in the arabian peninsula/isis operation to go after that magazine in paris and then go after that jewish supermarket? >> well, that's what the reports say. i can't comment on what the intelligence community is saying. you've obviously seen that in the public reports. i have no reason to doubt that. >> so is isis working together with aqap now? >> i would not be surprised to see that happening. again, based certainly on what you have from the french newspaper, that appears to be the case and you see this level of coordination that's happened
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over the years. aqap works with al shabab at times and also al qaeda. they work together when they have to. there's no reason why isis would not be part of that axis if you will. >> i'm going to move on. i want to take a quick break. we have more to discuss. the bottom line as far as the paris attacks are concerned, from everything you know, everything you heard, it's fair to say -- i don't want to put words in your mouth -- this was an aqap/isis attack. >> i would say based on published reports, i have no reason to doubt them. >> congressman, stand by. we have a lot more to discuss. we'll take a quick break. we'll be right back. [announcer] if your dog can dream it purina pro plan can help him achieve it. ♪ driving rock/metal♪ music stops ♪music resumes♪ music stops ♪music resumes♪ [announcer] purina pro plan's bioavailable formulas deliver optimal nutrient absorption. [whistle] purina pro plan.
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newspaper reporting that the paris attacks on the magazine offices in paris, later the kosher supermarket attack were coordinated with the gunmen communicating by text possibly even meeting the morning of the first attack. we're back with republican congressman peter king of new york, a member of the homeland security and intelligence committee. congressman, those attacks in paris and now the attacks in koganeg copenhagen, erieerily similar, in paris the magazine and then supermarket. in copenhagen cartoonists and a synagogue. what's going on here? is there coordination, in other words, between paris and copenhagen? >> wolf that is still being examined, being investigated fully. certainly, if nothing else one is inspired by the other and it appears that we see isis and their supporters they focus
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first of all on anything that involve s involves with the cartoonists. they have an ultimate enemy, and that's jews whether it's the kosher deli or synagogue, they are motivated by extreme hatred of jews and christians as we've seen in egypt. certainly the two attacks in europe where they went for the jewish target for the second one not coincidence, not just happenstance happenstance. it's jews that go to synagogues and the kosher supermarket. it's definitely a target. it's synchronized or one being inspired by the other. that's why this is being fully investigated to see if there are any connections. if there is any, is there a central command or any worry as to how they should carry these out? >> we now know and it's disturbing the gunman in copenhagen pledged allegiance to
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isis on social media, and it's very disturbing. but is it just mreejing allegiance or do you think isis itself coordinated and helped plan attack in copenhagen? >> that's something we have to determine. there's more and more evidence coming out that he was radicalized while he was in prison. that's something we've been concerned about here in the u.s. when i was chairman of the homeland security committee, we investigated the prisoner radicalization. that's somewhat brainwashing. we need to determine who the brainwashers were, what faction of al qaeda they came from or if they were just radical jihadists. >> you say these terror groups are going after jews going after christians, 21 egyptian christians were beheaded. >> right. >> in libya. as you know the egyptian military is going after the isis targets in libya. it's not just jews and
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christians, yazidis, a small religious group in iraq. most of their victims cremeorrect me if i'm wrong, have been fellow muslims. >> right. those who don't go along with their interpretation of islam. that's where, wolf i think the white house has been deficient here when they talk about folks being killed or citizens being killed. the other day the egyptian were coptic christians killed because they were coptic christians not just because they were citizens. they were jews in the deli, not just folks. they're going after different segments, minority groups elements of islam. they are really carrying out this religious and ethnic war. we should point that out, not just make it out that they're terrorists randomly attacking folks or randomly attacking citizens. they're attacking people whose religious views are different from theirs whose ethnic makeup is different from theirs, and, again, certainly anyone among islam who does not share their
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distorted interpretation of islam. so this is a religious war and an ethnic war. i know it's a genocidal type war being carried out by isis. >> that's not forget the jordanian fighter pilot burned in that steam cage, a fellow muslim himself, a fellow arab as well. >> right. >> do you have confidence that the iraqi army right now can handle this fight against isis? >> no, i don't. i think that it's going to require a strong coordination by the u.s. i think we should have more americans embedded with the iraqi army. listen, they were just -- there's no way they can recover that quickly during the four or five-month period. this will require intense training and coordination. no i do not have confidence in them at this stage. >> do you believe the u.s. should expand its air strikes not only against isis targets in syria and iraq but now in libya also? >> i think the u.s. should carry
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out attacks anywhere it thinks it would be helpful to defeat isis. the president as commander in chief i believe has the right and a responsibility. isis is showing itself to be a regionwide phenomenon. if there are targets there, then i believe, yes, we should go after them. >> peter king thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. coming up fears of contamination after oil tanker cars derail and explode in west virginia. but up next what a cease-fire looks and sounds like in ukraine. >> we'll go live near the front lines. you're looking at that explosion that occurred inside ukraine. sure you know what this meeting is about. yes, a raise. i'm letting you go. i knew that. you see, this is my amerivest managed... balances. no. portfolio. and if doesn't perform well for two consecutive gold.
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ukraine's two-day-old cease-fire has collapsed. pro-russian separatists spent the day battling forces near one city a vital hub. as a camera crew dodged artillery fire a huge column of fire was sent into the sky. separatists claim they control 80% of the nearby city and want the ukrainian forces to surrender. let's bring in nick paton walsh on the ground in donetsk, which the rebels already hold whaxt's the latest over there? >> reporter: well we did hear all day the separatests claiming they controlled more of that important railway hub, but it appears that the ukrainian's
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military now accepts they have lost control of part of that town and also that, in fact it is ukrainian soldiers that are now captured by some of the separatists. the key issue in the future is quite how this issue is resolved in this area the key railway hub strategic to both sides. but the violence right now is continuing uninterrupt during this cease-fire. the separatists very confident. there are hundreds if not thousands of ukrainian troops inside the town. the ukrainian government has been forced to accept they are losing. it looks inevitable looking at the equipment the separatists have which nato and ukraine says is russian military supplied that they will eventually lose control of that town. you just have to ask yourself what level of damage to civilians and ukrainian military can be done before the final objective is achieved and what does that do to the longer term
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issue of enforcing the cease-fire. do the separatists borders stop there or is it an escalation into territory held by the ukrainian government? >> nick paton walsh on the ground in eastern ukraine, thank you. let's get more. joining us from vienna austria, daniel bear the u.s. ambassador in europe which is supposed to be monitoring a cease-fire. how is that cease-fire ambassador, holding up? >> well wolf as you just heard from nick obviously there continues to be rampant violations of the cease-fire around one of the four strategic areas that have been held by the ukrainian forces over many months. and the separatists and russians who support them have been attacking over many months. obviously the hope was that when president putin signed up last week to relaunch the cease-fire that he agreed to way back in
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september, that he would follow through on his word. and it has been a trajgic to see the sites where russian forces and separatists are wreaking absolute carnage. >> to be precise, who's to blame for the break of the cease-fire? >> i don't think there's any question. i stayed up late on saturday night when the cease-fire was to take effect. i listened -- watched president poroshenko live address his national security council and then address each of his military commanders in the field over the radio, giving them the order to cease fire. as i said the city has been held by ukrainian forces for months, has been under attack for months. the attack has heated up in recent weeks with the separatists and the russian military deployed systems lobbing shells multiple rocket launching systems in the outskirts and obviously making gains on the ground. this runs completely counter to
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what president putin agreed to last week. you know implementing a cease-fire, you can't be partially implementing it. it's like being pregnant. you can't be half pregnant. he is not implementing the cease-fire, not following through on his word. and we need russia and the separatists to stop the shooting first so that the fall-back can happen and the people of ukraine can have peace. >> can putin control those pro-russian separatists inside ukraine? >> absolutely, wolf. there is a long line of carnage that can be traced back to the kremlin starting before in the spring, continuing through the shoot-down of mh-17 where 298 innocent people lost their lives the recent rocket attack on an open-air civilian market and now this carnage. this would not be happening without the kremlin's support. the kremlin is offering the kremlin's military commanders are offering command and control
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support. there are russian weapons systems being used for the attacks. the kremlin wouldn't have to persuade anyone not to fire multiple rocket launching systems if they weren't delivering the systems over the border on a constant basis. >> so you're blaming russia and pulten pult putin for the break of the cease-fire. >> it's absolutely clear that russia has not under taken to follow through on what it agreed to last week. obviously, there are the so-called leaders of these separatist groups on the ground that also need to implement the cease-fire that also signed up through the so-called package of measures to implement the cease-fire of last september. they need to follow through as well. we heard from the council today, from the chief monitor in ukraine who told us he had written a letter to alloryies of the cease-fire asking for their imlemtplementation of the plan.
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he's heard from the ukraine government and one of the rebels but he hasn't heard back from the others or the government of russia. this needs to happen now. russia needs to follow through on their commitment. there seems to be a double path they're pursuing. they claim to be interested in peace. they claim to be interested in diplomacy both the efforts many minsk today in new york et cetera. but on the ground they're pursuing a violent, violent attack, a violent game t. is a devil's game and needs to stop. >> speaking of violent attacks, you saw that fiery blast of that pipeline in donetsk. it was awful. we're showing it to our viewers right now, in fact. you see that kind of an attack that pipeline exploding. who knows how many people may have been killed eded as a result of that. what goes through your mind? >> well what goes through my mind, as i said to you before this is all a chosen tragedy. this didn't need to happen. this is directly traceable to the kremlin's actions, and it
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doesn't need to happen. there's so much bad that happens in the world that we can't control, natural disasters and the like. it is so sad to see this chosen tragedy unfold. obviously when you have heavy weapons, modern russian machinery being deployed there are enormous tolls on the citizens. there's a humanitarian crisis close to a million people displaced from their homes, many civilians who have perished. it all didn't have to happen. while we can't roll back the clock what we can do is hope the kremlin and president putin come to their senses begin the path of deescalation, the path they've committed to multiple times and stop wreaking carnage on ukraine. >> ambassador baer the cease-fire is over and they conclude that it's because putin and the pro-russian separatists decided to ignore that cease-fire. that will put enormous pressure on president obama to go ahead
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and provide lethal weapons to the ukrainian army and to further intensify sanctions, economic, diplomat beingicdiplomatic political sanctions against russia. you agree with me on that right? >> certainly we've said all along that we are constantly reassessing our support for ukraine to make sure it is calibrate calibrated, appropriate on the ground. we were clear last week that we were looking to russia to follow through with actions not words. and if russia failed to follow through, there would be higher costs on russia. we saw the rollout earlier this week of more sanctions from the european union. we've been working in close partnership with our allies and partners and will continue to do so to make sure we raise the cost if russia doesn't take the path of deescalation and cease-fire. >> what about providing weapons to the ukrainian parmy? we know the germans and other europeans oppose that. what do you think will happen? >> you know that's a decision for the white house to make.
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we are in close touch with our partners and one of the things about a partnership is that not everybody does exactly the same thing. we are constantly assessing how we can work together and support each other in support of ukraine. i think this is obviously there's short-term carnage we want to stop immediately. but as chancellor merkel said earlier this week, even if the cease-fire sticks, if we can get it to hold thshgs is the beginning of a long road. ukraine is going to need a lot of support. russia is going to need to refrain from further damaging actions, and we are all going to have to work together to support ukraine on this long road. >> ambassador baer thank you for joining us. we'll continue to stay in touch with you. the story unfortunately is not going away. coming up a fireball caught on camera as a train derails and explodes in west virginia. now there are fears of contamination from spilled oil.
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a derailment in west virginia set off a huge explosion caught on camera by our cnn affiliate wsaz. officials are keeping a close watch on the drinking water supply right now. cnn's rene marsh is here in "the situation room," following the latest developments. very worrisome. >> it absolutely is.
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those images wolf we do know they are periodically testing the water to make sure it is not contaminated in this specific area. more than 100 people displaced close to 800 without power because of burned power lines. and at this moment the fire is still burning. more than 24 hours after multiple explosions lit up this west virginia town emergency crews are still fighting to put out the flames from the derailed oil train. >> stations have a train derail derailment derailment, possible house pfeiffer. >> the fireball climbed hundreds of feet in the air. >> need to respond to a train on fire involving train car and a house. >> the csx train was pulling more than 100 tank cars filled with crude oil from north dakota to virginia. alexander watched the growing inferno
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inferno. >> we were on the riverbank when we saw the train explode or car explode, and it shot up a mushroom cloud about -- kind of like that now. >> the train's explosive cargo fueled the flames. >> federal investigators that come in will look at what caused the derailment. there were 26 tanker cars that derailed near armstrong creek with the crude oil, and 19 of those caught fire. >> oil from the derailed train visible on the surface of nearby water raising contamination fears about the water supply. three tests show no sign of oil, but as a precaution the town is under a boil advisory. the safety of oil trains cross s crisscrossing the continent is a growing concern after several explosive accidents. in april, this train derailed and burned in lynchburg, virginia, spilling oil into a
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nearby river. and in 2013, a runaway train with 72 cars of crude derailed and exploded in quebec. nearly 50 people killed. well, we've seen more of these incidents because there's an increase in oil shipment by rail. the problem is, some of the tanker cars transporting the crude are subpar. they're thin easy to rupture, although csx tells us they had the more modern more sturdy cars. but still safety highlights here when you see these incidents. >> we saw that explosion. it was huge. rene, thanks very much. coming up a serious round of threats from kim jong-un's government as new satellite images locate expected atrocities in north korea. financial noise
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. threats coming in from north korea. let's go to cnn's brian todd. he's got the latest. brian? >> wolf kim jong-un and his crohn cronies have threatened to respond very strongly to it. the conference went off as planned. we were there and we learned disturbing new detailed which we have for you tonight about the notorious camps for people on the wrong side of this regime. tonight, new satellite images from inside kim jong-un's prison camp system. a sandbar where defectors say public executions took place a. reported burial site. this is camp 15 a sprawling prison inside north korea for
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those who run afoul. >> you could fit two washington, d.c.,s inside of it. >> reporter: from photos, it shows hydroelectric plants farms where prisoners are forced to work and there were mines at the camp since shut down all things that the north koreans tried to hide. >> north korea practices what we call in the west camouflage conceal and deception. that means that they make every effort to hide many of their activities. they know that we are watching camp 15. they know that we are concerned about the human rights issue. >> reporter: the photos have been presented at a human rights conference. a conference kim jong-un's regime tried to stop. his ambassador to the u.n. reportedly asking the u.s. government to immediately scrap it then threatening to respond very quickly. a scathing report in which hundreds of former prisoners
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detailed abuse, one of a mother being forced to drown her child, others presenting drawings of human remains with left for rats to eat. >> they had to scrimmage for rodents, for mice in order to survive. there was just not an appropriate level of food for people to survive and prisoners gave testimony to the commission of inquiry that their job was to pick up the bodies and put them into the incinerator and then scatter the remains on the fields as fertilizer. >> reporter: from north korean officials, a flat denial. >> we made it very clear that there is no prison camps in our country. >> i think they really feel that this hits at the heart of the regime in the ways that they have never experienced before. they've experienced sanctions and people criticizing their nuclear policies but this is something new and different to
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them. >> new and different because the u.n. report recommended that kim jong-un and inner circle be referred to the international criminal court for prosecution. it's unlikely that is going to happen but one of the reasons that the regime has been embarrassed by this report and a key reason that they tried to stop this human rights conference, because it exposes kim jong-un. that's what they are the most fearful about. >> i understand that north korean officials wanted to attend this conference? >> they said they wanted to show up to physically be here to refute these human rights allegations against them. what's interesting is that the diplomats at the u.n. need permission from the state department to travel beyond a 25-mile radius from the u.n. they asked for that and were denied it they say, but a top state official tells me that request was never made. >> brian todd, thanks very much. breaking news, new details about the terror attack in denmark and the gunman's connection to isis.
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happening now, coordinated terrorists. stunning new details about the communication between the killers of the french magazine and the kosher market by phone and in person. the white house gets into a war of words as it scrambles for new ways to defeat the terrorists with the help of middle eastern allies. i'll ask the deputy state department spokesman about that and more. and powering inferno. is there danger tonight from the train derailment that sent massive fireballs into the air and crude oil into the water. we want to welcome our viewers into the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer.
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you're in "the situation room." and we've got breaking news tonight. isis now launching a major new assault in northern iraq against occurred kurdish fighters who say they are clearly on the offensive right now and they are coming after the kurdish forces from several directions. we're told u.s.-led coalition aircraft are in the area but so far have not been able to fire on the isis units. also breaking now, new signs that the paris terrorist attacks were coordinated in a murderous plot that may have linked isis and al qaeda and a chilling new report about contacts between the attackers of the "charlie hebdo" magazine and the gunman who would later slaughter hostages at a kosher superintendenter superintendenter supermarket. marie harf is here in "the
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situation room." our correspondents and analysts are standing by with more of the breaking news. first, let's go to our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. jim? >> they were friends and involved in a previous terror plot together and their wives communicated extensively. they were in touch by both text message and in person on the very day of the deadly paris attacks. the hours before the horrific attack on "charlie hebdo," the culprits reportedly communicated in person and by text mess average with the shooter in the deadly assault in a kosher market that would follow two days later. citing french investigators, the french newspaper reports that kouachi sent a text message to
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coulibaly. the text was sent at 10:19 on the morning of the "charlie hebdo" attack to kouachi from one of coulibaly's 13 cell phones. a phone french investigators believe he bought specifically to communicate with the kouachi brothers. only six text messages were sent from the phone. the text sent that morning was the last. this new reported information further could be brace the relationship between the kouachis and coulibaly. the wives of coulibaly and one of the kouachi brothers had 500 phone calls between them during the year before the attacks. le monde reports that they likely met in person sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. the morning of the attack. >> they were taking the opportunity to meet in person is a it bit of a chance but it keeps them from communicating certain
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facts electronically. >> reporter: and from the phones one more bizarre detail. sources say that the january 7th attack was almost canceled just days before when the gunman said kouachi came down with the stomach flu. i spoke to a senior counterterrorism official who made the point that what we see here is lone wolf is a bit of a misnomer. they are possibly linked to larger terror groups and their leaders but at the same time very different from 9/11-style command and control and as a result much harder to track. >> i know we're getting breaking news on a major isis assault now going after kurdish targets in iraq. >> that's right. it's taking place in the southwest of erbil, the kurdish front in the northern part of the country. the attacks starting at 9:00 p.m. local time so under the
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cover of darkness. and it shows other strength of isis. there was an assault on kurdish forces last week and in the anbar province where you have some 300 military forces based. so yes, you've seen a stopping of their momentum in some areas a loss of isis on the ground in iraq and now you are seeing them carry on offensive operations in numbers and a very coordinated attack is still under way. >> they are not old holding mosul, the second largest city in iraq but they are going after erbil, which is where all of the kurdish leaders are based. >> as well as military advisers and diplomats. it's one of the relatively safe zones in the country but you're seeing here that isis can show its strength on the outskirts of the city. >> jim, we'll stay on top of this story.
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thanks very much. let's get to the terror attacks in denmark. we're getting new information about the suspected shooter and his connection to isis. our justice correspondent pamela brown is in copenhagen and she's got the latest. pamela? >> reporter: wolf we are just learning new disturbing details. there is surveillance video that's been viewed and the suspect appeared to be acting like he was drunk so he could get in point-blank range of his victims. tonight, u.s. law enforcement is helping danish authorities scour the computer of omar abdel hamid el hussein to see if he had any communications with americans. the shooter learned an automatic rifle in his attack heard here in audio obtained by the bbc. the m-95 like this is a powerful weapon often used by danish military.
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>> this guy, he fired his weapon with single shots and that tells me that he's quite calm he's in control, he's not desperate. >> reporter: just prior to the attack, it appears it swore allegiance to abu baghdadi. it's not believed that he trained with the terrorist group over over overseaz and then the two men have been charged. it's believed el hussein was radicalized while serving time in this copenhagen prison after being convicted of a violent crime. groups like isis have influence there. >> they may have questions about what i think about isis and what's my opinion about isis. they want to know actually is it actually good or are they bad guys or what are they?
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>> reporter: a psychological profile of el hussein found no suspicion of mental illness. he was released from prison two weeks ago, according to officials. >> they felt he was more of a gang member than a violent extremist and they did not keep track of him after he was released. >> reporter: investigators are looking to see if el hussein may have been inspired by the terrorists in paris that left 17 dead. michael steinbach recently said that copycat attacks are a major concern. >> they want to conduct an attack just to make the news like their -- like the folks they saw on tv. they may be at one level of intent but community events or world events at least through their eyes spurs them on to mobilize and conduct an attack. >> u.s. officials that i've been
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speaking with say they are alarmed by the frequency of these lone wolf attacks we've seen here in copenhagen. danish police say the gunman tried to enter through other entrances before going to the main entrance of the first location where that free speech event was taking place. wolf it is clear he was on a mission to wreak havoc. >> yes, he certainly was. pamela brown in copenhagen for us thank you. as isis launches a major new offensive right now under way in iraq not far from the kurdish capital of erbil, the white house is holding a summit. there's been controversy kroundingkround surrounding the talks. let's go to jim acosta. the president spoke about the summit just a little while ago. >> reporter: that's right. the white house encountering violent extremism, some of it is just getting started and there's controversy. for started, critics are pouncing on the name and where is the reference to radical
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islam as isis appears to be getting stronger. with the isis cancer spreading quickly to denmark where a gunman's rampage was inspired by the islamic state and to libya where egyptian christians were beheaded the white house is scrambling to carry a potent message. >> we need answers that go beyond force. >> reporter: vice president joe biden opened up this week's summit talking about the root causes of radicalism with the u.s.-led coalition carrying out the attacks on isis they are brainstorming way to encounter extremist propaganda and sharing those techniques globally. while it's not singling out isis, the oem administrationbama administration is adding staffers to deal with
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communications. think again, turn away on facebook and twitter. and on youtube, with videos boasting about the u.s. coalition. meeting with new defense secretary ash carter the president said the u.s. needs a comprehensive strategy. >> everything from making sure that we are dismantling isil and not only stabilizing the situation in iraq but addressing the foreign fighter issue encountering the narrative of violent extremism that has been turbo charged through the internet. >> reporter: but texas senator ted cruz complained that the name of the summit doesn't even reference the word islam. >> the words radical islam i can terrorism do not come out of the president's mouth. the word jihad does not come out of the president's mouth. and that is dangerous.
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>> reporter: attorney general eric holder says critics are missing the point. >> we're having this conversation about words as opposed to what our actions ought to be. this is a difficult problem. >> reporter: and it's not just republicans questioning the white house reluctance to use the word extremism. and just before the summit kicked off, senior administration officials were asked why they avoid this term islamic terrorism or extremism, one official says we'll call them what we want you call them what weyou want. >> jim acosta thank you. let's go to marie harf. thank you for coming in. >> the white house doesn't reference white house extremism, is that right? >> we talk about terrorism in a perverted warped vision of what they think islam is but we don't want to give them religious credibility. we don't want to give that to
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them so we don't think they have it. >> so you are not using the word islamic extremism or violence. you don't want to use the word islam at all, is that right? >> no. the secretary has said, people commit acts of terrorism with a warped vision of islam. the president has said the same thing. we can talk about what words we used. >> these extremists isis al qaeda, they are muslims, they are a tiny element of a million plus muslims out there but they are muslims. >> there are many that are not that commit violent acts of extremism or terrorism. we're going to call them terrorists and i would remind people that under this term no one should doubt our commitment to calling things like we see them and then taking action. >> you said that the u.s. cannot kill our way out of this war, that the u.s. needs to go after
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the root causes that lead these young men, mostly men, some women, to go and join isis or al qaeda oral shabaab or these terrorist groups. >> i'm not the first person to say something like this. military commanders that we've had throughout many years here fighting this war on terrorism of said the exact same thing, that in the short term when there's a threat like isil we'll take direct military action against these terrorists. we have done that. we are doing that in iraq and syria. but longer term we have to look at how we combat the conditions that can lead people to turn to extremism. if you think about, you know if there's a radical jihadi on the internet who is putting out hateful videos that's powerful and dangerous right? but if there are 10,000 men in a country willing to blow themselves up because of what it says on the internet that's much more dangerous. so how do you get these 10,000 it people not to pick up the
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ak-47 and do something positive in their life? looking at the long-term problem, not just the short-term one. >> so you suggest that maybe if you find these young men jobs they might not become terrorists? >> i think that's a gross oversimplification. there's things like good governance and if there is not good governance, it creates a space for people to get to the root of their cause. we've seen that in libya. where there's a lack of governance you've see young men attracted to this cause. we've seen this around the middle east and around the world. how do you get at that root cause? that's really the bigger point of this week's summit. >> but you know of course some of the best-known terrorists out there came from wealth and privileged higher education, degrees, bin laden himself. >> absolutely. it takes on a variety of
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different ways that you can do that here. part of it is military. absolutely. we're taking direct action against isil in iraq and syria. but look if we look around the world and say longer term we cannot kill every terrorist around the world nor should we try, how do you get at the root causes of this? it might be too nuance of an argument for some like i've seen some of the commentary out there in the last 24 hours but it's the smart way that the republicans, democrats, our partners in the arab world think we need to combat it. >> i want to give you a chance to respond to the critics out there. >> i'm happy to. >> they say it's important to find these guys jobs so they don't become terrorists. explain what you meant. >> where there's a lack of governance george w. bush talked about poverty leading people to extremism. where they are lacking in these kinds of opportunities, we need to talk about how to make that different, how to help our partners around the world give young men in that vulnerable age
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group a different path in life. show them that there's a different chance for them than joining a terrorist organization. it's one part of it wolf but it's a comprehensive way of how to combat extremism and it's not one that fits into a sound bite sometimes as i've seen over the last 24 hours but it's a really important piece of this. >> and the reason is 24 hours ago you said the issue of jobs find these guys jobs. >> yes. >> they might not become terrorists. so there's been some buzz, some criticism. how are you dealing with that? >> i don't read it. that's how i'm dealing with it. >> stand by marie. there's a lot more developments including an isis offensive in northern iraq right now. we'll be right back. you can't predict the market. but at t. rowe price we've helped guide our clients through good times and bad. our experienced investment professionals are one reason over 85% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper averages. so in a variety of markets we can help you feel confident.
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breaking news. we're back with marie harf. very disturbing information. within the last few hours we're getting information from tim lister our producer that isis is moving closer and closer to erbil where there are a lot of diplomats and military personnel. it doesn't seem that they are on the defense now, they are on the offensive. they are also moving closer and closer to erbil. what's going on? >> wolf as we talked about before this is going to be a battle that we fight against isil that goes in fits and starts. we have taken a healthier occupation, significant territory back in iraq but as we do that they will push into other territory. there will be days where they go on the offensive and days that we do but overall the iraqis are fighting back on them we are helping with the fire power. this will be a long fight but we
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think we'll be successful. >> the u.s. has aircraft hovering over they are ready to launch air strikes but they can't because the u.s. troops are up there close with the friendly peshmerga troops and it would wind up killing u.s. friends. >> there are a lot of factors that go into the determination of when we take air strikes and all of those would play into that. i know the military when they can take action against isis in iraq has. we have forces on the ground and we've been very supportive of the kurdish forces and iraqi forces as they have been the ground troops pushing back on isis. >> we'll stay on top of this of what is going on in northern iraq, the kurdish town of erbil. we'll see what happens there. mosul is already gone, for all practical purposes as we know. there's other reports we're
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getting that in syria the u.s. is about to start providing the so-called moderate senior rebels the ones who oppose bashar al assad's regime with weapons, offensive capabilities and the u.s. might be able to rely on them to call in u.s. air strikes is that true? >> i know the process for getting weapons to the syrian opposition has been ongoing and we want to get it up and running but the military makes the decisions about what targets to take but we work very closely with the syrian opposition of course. we want to train more of them and that's what we'll be doing. we work very closely with them. >> so far you are not providing -- you are just vetting the syrian rebels? >> that's correct. >> maybe 5,000. eventually will go to saudi arabia or jordan for training but not yet is the u.s. providing arms or weapons to this free syrian army? >> that's correct. the process is still in the
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vetting process and the saudis have said they will host places for us so they can go back into syria. they are fighting the war on two fronts against isis and against the regime. we really want to get this program up and running and moving forward. >> very disturbing information that the french newspaper "le monde" saying that there was communication between the terrorists actual meetings and text messages and one of the groups was working with al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, another working with isis. here's the question. are isis and aqap now working together in these terrorists operations in europe? >> well we're looking at all of these possible links right now. when we talk about working together it's not -- i think it's like we used to talk about it. you may have communication between aqap members and some of these cells in europe but when you talk about operational control, that's where things get much murkier and we don't have a
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lot of information to prove that. but what we're looking at is exactly that where there are financing links that we need to focus on. that's one way to get rid of this threat in europe where there are training opportunities and they would go to the region and come back. we talked about that when it comes to yemen. we're looking at all of those links right now but unfortunately you can go on the internet, be radicalized and never travel to meet one of these groups. >> as far as you know is there a direct link between the terrorist attacks at the kosher supermarket and what's been going on in copenhagen since the attack over the weekend at the free speech office and then the synagogue? >> i haven't seen anything to suggest operational links. again, there doesn't need to be for this to be a copycat. i'm not saying that it is but to see how it plays out and then want to replicate that somewhere else we're very concerned about that as well. there are a host of threats out there. this is certainly near the top
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of the list. >> thanks very much, marie harf for joining us. >> happy to be here. our terrorism analysts are standing by to tell us what they are learning. also an update on the fiery derailment. ress departments residents are worried that a nearby river may now be toxic.
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the breaking news tonight, a report that the paris terrorist attacks were coordinated. there is also reported evidence that they actually met in person early that morning. let's bring in our terrorism analyst paul cruickshank and robert baer and former counterterrorism operative and our analyst tom fuentes. bob baer this is a newly released picture that was received by the pentagon. this is the isis leader al baghdadi taken back in 2004. he was under u.s. control at camp bucka. he was freed and we know that he
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told his prison captors as he was leaving. he said i'll see you in new york. ominous words. and now he's the leaders of isis. now we see his picture. what do you think about this? >> well wolf i'd say it's pretty clear he was radicalized in prison he was picked up on suspicion of being a member of al qaeda. as i understand it, he was very quiet in prison but i think the fact is that he looks at the united states as his number one enemy and i'll go beyond that and say, given the chance he'll attack the continental united states and is certainly at war with the united states in kurdistan and iraq. why he was radicalized, i don't know. but it's very difficult for the military to keep track of so many prisoners and he got through the net. you know and secondly we couldn't keep these people after we left iraq. you can't point blame at anybody. it's very unfortunate.
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>> he is now the leader of isis. and we know what isis is doing. paul cruickshank, we're also learning now that the attacks in paris, the offices of "charlie hebdo" magazine the kosher supermarket two days later were well coordinated by these terrorists. what are you hearing specifically about the coordination? >> that's right, wolf. a lot of these new details have been published by "le monde" newspaper in france. there was always a suspicion that coulibaly and the kouachi brothers were associated. they were involved in a plot before in jail and now we have absolute proof that this was coordinated and there were text messages going back and forth
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between coulibaly and kouachi. there was also a sophisticated trade craft that these guys were using. coulibaly had up to 14 phones. he was careful to use a new phone in the last communications and he talked about the opening hours for the market suggesting that it was a preplanned target. wolf? >> a large number -- the french interior minister is suggesting that a large number of terrorist cells are operating in france. they are actually tracking in his words, hundreds of possible terrorist cells in france. that's a lot more than people suspected. >> i think they knew from the beginning that they were following that many before the attacks happened. and when they called off the surveillances of the kouachi brothers last june we
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questioned at the time who are they still following that they let go of these guys because of a lack of resources? so the fact that there's hundreds of potential terrorists in france is nothing new. it goes back at least a decade. they are coordinating among the countries. >> you're a good person to ask this question to. the white house is hosting and tomorrow as well a summit that they are entitling countering violent extremism. there's been criticism that that may not be the correct phrase if you will because they are not using specifically violent or radical islamists or islamic extremism. what do you think about this debate? i'm sure you've been following it here in the united states. >> yeah. the correct term is encountering violent extremists. you don't want to have a department that fixates just on muslims. there are sovereign movements,
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and the problem is that think about it from another perspective, you don't want the muslim world to think this is about muslim. you're going to alienate populations. if you're saying that we're engaging in a battle of hearts and minds, you're not going to win hearts and minds by isolating one group. >> what do you think about that tom? >> i disagree with that somewhat. this is not the russian mafia, the russian mob. they portray themselves as bringing the new caliphate, of spreading islam and sharia law from around the world. i think if you're not pin pointing it to that you are missing the context of why these groups are doing what they are doing. they have left 90 countries and joined isis. that's why they joined it. it's not that we're looking for a group that's violent. they have violent street gangs that are violent in every one of these countries. they didn't need to travel
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thousands of miles to join isis. >> bob baer, where do you stand on this debate? >> i think isis is transgressive. i think it's gone beyond any islamic doctrine. burning the pilot, murdering the cops in libya, nothing i've ever seen in islam and i have studied the koran in arabic for years and with the muslim brotherhood and this has gone way beyond the killing of postates. so this is closer to a cult. they may identify themselves as muslims but i think, in fact if you ask a muslim scholar, they are closer to heritage. >> explain why isis is doing what they are doing, mubin, either beheading their opponents or burning them in cages and then putting them on the internet videotaping them and getting publicity. what does this do for them? >> well i mean so it's terrorism as theater, right? it's the spectacle event.
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they want to show people how powerful they are, how strong they are. and it's to dissuade people who want to fight them to scare them into look, don't come this is what we're going to do to you. at the same time it's fan base. it excites them by this violence by this brutality. and if i can finish off by saying i think the correct term is terrorists in islamic costume. >> that's a new term. but i see tom fuentes, you're shaking your head you like that? >> sure. at least it's giving the context of the original base. even as they have deviated as bob baer said i agree with him completely they are going to form a caliphate and that's a term of a religious country. >> i want everybody to stand by because we have much more on the breaking news involving the war on terror including new assaults under way by isis. we're also getting new information on another story. a fiery train derailment that has released spectacular clouds
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red hot clouds of fire. look at this. exploding into the sky, raging for hours and hours. tonight it's still a hazardous situation at the scene of the train derailment in west virginia. a massive oil spill. cnn's rene marsh is here in "the situation room" with an update of what is going on. very disturbing. >> it is. and those images are hard to believe that only one person injured. i just got off the phone with the west virginia emergency management team. they are periodically testing the water in this area.
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they want to make sure that it's not contaminated. we can tell that you three tests have been done and they were able to come to the conclusion that at this point they do not believe any oil was able to make its way into the water supply which is also a source of drinking water for people in this area. we can tell you, more than 100 people displaced, close to 800 people without power because that massive fire that you're looking at there, it burned power lines. of course this all stems from monday's derailment of a csx train that was hauling crude oil from north dakota to virginia. it derailed and then ended in that fiery explosion. there was one man who saw it all unfold before his very eyes. take a listen. >> we're standing out on the river bank when this all exploded the car exploded and it shot up a mushroom cloud about as high as the plume is
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now, like that. >> it's just massive, massive flames there. and we should point out at this hour the fire is still burning. they don't believe that they will get it out until around midnight. so that's still a situation they are dealing with. we know that of course this highlights just the safety concern to transporting the highly explosive crude oil throughout these neighborhoods. >> it's very worrisome. thanks very much for that rene. just ahead, a major new offensive by isis is unfolding right now. how much money do you have in your pocket right now? i have $40 $21. could something that small make an impact on something as big as your retirement? i don't think so. well if you start putting that towards your retirement every week and let it grow over time, for twenty to thirty years that retirement
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billions of americans signed up for health care coverage through obama care. there's more than 50% higher than number people enrolled for coverage back in 2014. the deadline to sign up by the way, was sunday. tonight president obama is defending his executive action on immigration reform just hours after it was temporarily blocked by a federal judge in texas. it's a major set back for the administration for millions of undocumented immigrants who thought their lives was about to change. let's bring in joe johns for the
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details. >> the administration did an end run around the law. the homeland security department is suspended the programs so it doesn't violate the court order but the president said he is not conceding defeat on this issue. less than two days before the government was going to start taking applications for immigrant children who want protection from deportation, a huge last minute setback. a texas federal judge brings the enforcement policy that could affect up to five million people to a screeching halt at least temporarily. president obama said the administration would comply with the court's decision blocking implementation of its clear policy but made clear the fight is not over. >> i disagree with texas judge's ruling and the justice department will appeal. homeland security secretary jay johnson did not follow the law and administrative rules when he launched the new policies on der
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defefrde deferred enforcement. actions comply with the country's law and constitution. the judge is an appointee of george w. bush and a sharp critic of obama's policies. greg abbott filed a lawsuit on behalf of his and 25 other states. >> we will not sit idly by while the president ignores the law and fails to secure the border. >> reporter: the white house is fighting this battle on two fronts. a face off with republicans congress over the policy could affect funding for the homeland security department. the ruling means people who are planning on filing for deferred action on immigration for their children starting on wednesday will have to wait. >> these people who were so excited in november now they can gather their papers together but they can't participate in the program. >> reporter: the president supporters were urging immigrants who want to change
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their status to use the time the cases in the courts to get their paper work together. >> get your birth certificates. get your passports up to date. get all your documentation to prove you've been here. >> reporter: the funding bill for the department of homeland security has been snag in the senate because of a disagreement between democrats and republicans on the immigration policies. john boehner called on senate democrats who disagree who help get that bill moving. >> we'll see what the impact of this judge's decision has on funding for the department of homeland security. they got to make a decision in next few days on that. thanks very much. joining us is our senior legal analyst ron brown. jeffrey, what happens legally, next? >> well the obama administration appeals this decision. they go to the fifth circuit court of appeals in new orleans. it's a court of appeals that's been very unsympathetic to the obama administration. their chances of getting it
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overturned initially are not great. >> potentially going to the u.s. supreme court, right? >> wolf, i think this case is on a rocket ride to the supreme court even though the term is well along. this could certainly wind up before the supreme court this year before the term ends in june which would mean that both of president obama's signature achievements could both have life or death cases before the supreme court this spring. >> marriage equality same-sex marriage is before the supreme court. we'll have a decision oenn that before the end of june. they have to fund the department of homeland security by tend of february. this judge's decision this district court judge in texas, how is that going to impact this debate over funding for the department of homeland security. boehner and the republicans want to tie it to avoiding any action on this immigration we form.
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>> they don't have the leverage to do so at this point. this could provide an out for the republicans saying we want to fund the depts department. this shows we are right and should stand fast on this. in fact you could imagine way this could provide them an out. i don't think in the end particularly senate republicans want to be blamed for closing down security with what is going on. >> how much division ron, you study this closely is there with democrats on this whole issue of immigration reform now? >> there's more than there used to be. while there are senate democrats who are uncomfortable with obama
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doing this. none of them have broken off the filibuster that's preventing republicans from attaching the rider to the homeland security bill which will be vetoed by the president if it's passed. >> the practical impact of what this judge in texas has decided to do that millions of undocumented people here in the united states, they thought within days they would begin this process of getting some sort of legal status to remain in the united states but they're hopes, at least the short term have been dashed right? >> yeah. this case is not about abstractions and predictions about what might happen. this was going to happen tomorrow. millions of people were eligible to start this process, this dreamer's process and the whole thing is stopped cold. now the fifth circuit may overturn the stay. they may not. this had enormous practical impact all across the country.
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>> what's going to be the political fall out of this? >> yeah the overriding em perativeper imperative is to create facts on the ground. every candidate will pledge to undo it if they are elected. they want to sign up as many people as possible and make it as difficult to overturn this. ultimately it's going to be the supreme court. based on the 2012 ruling on the arizona state law on immigration immigration, most advocate are comfortable that obama will win in the end. that does require one republican appointed supreme court justice and you can never bet your entire house on that at this point. >> you want to weigh in on that jeffrey? >> i'm wear ri of making predictions about what the court
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will do. even more than the health care case this immigration matter is about presidential power. there's one thing that republican appointees have been supportive of the president's power to set his own agenda to enforce the law, to pick which cases to bring and which not to bring. i think the obama administration feels pretty confident that they will win in the long run but in the short run this process is stopped dead in its tracks. >> it's a problem for them too. running out the clock could be a problem for them too. many people signed up to make it as tough to repeal as possible. >> remember you can always follow us on twitter thanks for watching.
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i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett outfront starts now. breakbreak inging news. we're live in iraq, next. the mother of four shot to death of what appears to be an extreme case of road rage. the police releasing new information on what led to this deadly encounter. the murder trial of former nfl star aaron hernandez, crucial video shown to the jury today. taking apart his cell phone. the why? let's go outfront. good evening.
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